In early 1985, Martina Deignan joined the Santa Barbara cast as Jackie Parks, a likable Navy wife and the high school teacher of Ted Capwell. For a while there it looked like Jackie and Ted would become more than friends. But then, suddenly, Jackie was written out of the show and Martina Deignan left. Here, Martina discusses her career and time on SB with us.
Capridge.Com: Can you tell us a bit about your early life?
Martina Deignan: I was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. I went to the Lacordaire School in Upper Montclair where I fell in love with the theatre and was cast in several plays.
Capridge.Com: How did you begin your journey to acting?
Martina Deignan: I went to Loyola University in Los Angeles and became a Theatre Arts major and had the privilege of being tutored by acting teachers at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. After I graduated, I moved back to New York and tried to get acting work while I studied with Uta Hagen. I was cast in a contract role on As the World Turns and during that time I continued to audition for theatre and film.
Capridge.Com: Did you have a role model?
Martina Deignan: I would have to say my role model was Uta Hagen who I admired very much. She taught me everything I know about acting.
Capridge.Com: You played Annie Stewart on As the World Turns from 1976 to 1979. What was that experience like?
Martina Deignan: On ATWT I made many friends and still am in touch with a few of them. It was a terrific experience because you have to work very quickly and memorize scripts in very little time. We were a close knit group and I fondly look back on those three years.
Capridge.Com: Your next big role was as a female firefighter on Code Red, a short-lived TV show starring Lorne Greene and Andrew Stevens.
Martina Deignan: Code Red was also a wonderful experience. My only wish is that it could have been extended. I learned a great deal about working in front of a camera and Lorne Greene was a very generous and helpful cast mate.
Capridge.Com: As an actress, did you prefer to act out dramatic or comedic storylines?
Martina Deignan: I love comedy and feel that's what I'm best at but more often than not have been cast in dramatic roles.
Capridge.Com: How did you become involved with Santa Barbara?
Martina Deignan: I simply auditioned and was happy to be a part of it since Judith McConnell [Sophia], my friend from ATWT, was also on it.
Capridge.Com: How would you describe the character of Jackie Parks?
Martina Deignan: I think the character was at a crossroads in her life and didn't know which way to turn. I don't think the writers knew how to resolve it, which is why I was written out.
Capridge.Com: Most of your scenes were with Todd McKee as Ted. Do you have any recollections of him and the other cast members?
Martina Deignan: Todd is a very nice and sincere person. I enjoyed working with him very much. I also remember Robin Wright [Kelly] who I also liked very much.
Capridge.Com: One of your last acting projects was the 1990 film Ghost, which starred Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. What prompted you to retire from acting?
Martina Deignan: I continued to audition but as you probably know it's hard to get cast as you grow older. I would still like to be part of the acting community and now that I'm older I'm in a different age range and perhaps might find some work, but I like writing and may stick with that.
Capridge.Com: What have you been up to since giving up acting?
Martina Deignan: I got married in 1993 and my husband and I adopted a little boy from China seven years ago. Xiao, our son, is now 11. I stopped auditioning when Xiao came home because he really needed me full time. I took a job as a writer and editor at a publishing house in New York and was able to work from home much of the time. When that job ended, I continued to do freelance work and I wrote a play.
Capridge.Com: Can you describe what a typical day in your life at the moment may hold?
Martina Deignan: Today I'm still working as a freelance editor and I'm revising a draft for my play. I have a director and hope to have a reading of the play very soon. The goal is to have a full production of it. I spend a lot of time with my son and tomorrow we're looking forward to seeing the musical Anything Goes on Broadway. He's got a week off from school. I've also started another play and once my first one is off the ground I hope to concentrate more on the second one.
Capridge.Com: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why?
Martina Deignan: I don't think I'd trade places with anyone. I have been a very fortunate person in my personal and professional lives. I've been very lucky to have good friends and a wonderful family. I would have liked to have met Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain because I think they were very interesting men. I'd also like to meet President Obama because he, too, is fascinating.
Capridge.Com: Thank you very much for taking the time to share with the fans!